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It is important to teach your children the things they need to know to be healthy and successful in life before they reach their teens. Teenagers are involved in their own lives full of social and sports activities. They are concentrating on the moment. Plus, they have hormones controlling many of their feelings.

You should start teaching your child how to accomplish some of the following as soon as they are old enough to walk. Even little ones can learn good food choices and the importance of keeping their bodies and play spaces clean.

This list is not all-inclusive. However, if your child learns to assume responsibility in the following areas, they will be well on their way to achieving independence and making positive contributions to both their families and society.

How to Take Care of Themselves

Do Laundry

Caring for clothing is a part of everyone’s life. In our house, each person had a specified day for laundry. Weekends were reserved for my husband and I, who both worked during the week. My children never brought home dirty clothes from university. In fact, they were the go-to people for those who did not know how to wash their clothes in their halls.

Areas to explain are:

  • Products to use.
  • How to read and follow clothing labels.
  • How to separate clothing by type.
  • How to wash whites, darks, and permanent press.
  • How to fold clothes quickly and easily.

Eat Healthy

As a parent, teaching healthy eating habits can be difficult. Our lives become so busy; it is just easier to opt for fast food or processed products. However, the only way your children will learn to eat healthy is by doing so at home.

Try to incorporate fiber and protein into each meal. Encourage children to snack on veggies and fresh fruit. If junk food is not available, they cannot eat it, so keep it out of the house.

Stay Active

Most young people spend a tremendous amount of time sitting – in the classroom, at their computer, watching television. There is no need to join a gym. Simply introduce exercise into their daily routine. An evening walk, bike riding, gardening, any activity done outdoors can provide the exercise necessary to keep the body healthy.

How to Have Ethical Behavior

Know the Difference between Right and Wrong

Make sure you teach your child the difference between right and wrong. Use teachable moments: a news report on television, the consequences suffered by someone famous who did something wrong, or the trouble a friend gets into as a result of poor choices. Each individual needs to have a moral center; a compass that tells them when they are stepping out of line. It is your job as a parent to teach your child to set their moral compass.

Honesty

I had a rule when my children were growing up. If they told me the truth, there may be consequences, but there would not be punishment.

There are three ways to teach honesty.

  • Demonstrate honest behavior.

If someone phones and you don’t want to take the call, do not have your children say you are not there when you actually are. My children were directed to say, “My mother is not available to take your call right now.” This was a blanket reason non-specific enough that the caller would not know if my children were alone or if I was somewhere in the house indisposed.

  • Explain what honest behavior is.

In our society, dishonest behavior is, unfortunately, prevalent. Point it out when you see it on TV and in movies.

  • Reward honest behavior.

Whenever your child displays honesty, reward them, with a compliment or a hug. Tell them how proud you are of them.

Respect

Teach your child to respect their elders, their friends, associates, and themselves.

They should not be allowed to speak to parents with a disrespectful tone. They should also be discouraged from speaking negatively or “putting down” their friends. When a person respects others, they get respect in return.

In regards to respecting themselves, teach your child to set physical and emotional boundaries with others. Your child needs to know how to say no. My children were told they could always use me as an excuse by saying, “My mother would kill me if she found out!” They reported as adults that they used this excuse quite effectively any number of times.

There are other behaviors to teach your child before they become a teenager, but these are some of the most important. We never finish teaching our children. Our youngest daughter called this evening to get her father’s assistance on a technical problem with her phone. However, the lessons learned early in life will lay a foundation upon which a successful adult life can be built.

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